There are two in-game concepts called Poise.

  • The player has the stat Poise, which is obtained from Armor, the Lothric Knight Long Spear, Yhorm's Greatshield and the Wolf Ring.
  • And the hidden value "poise health" that determines when your "hyperarmor frames" are interrupted.
    The visible stat Poise acts as a defense stat for this poise health, reducing how much poise damage is inflicted by enemy attacks.

The stagger resistance given by the skills Unfaltering PrayerPerseverance, Stone Flesh, and the pyromancy Iron Flesh are unaffected by your Poise stat. These have their own independent "poise health". The Great Hammer version of Perseverance, however, does activate the player's poise.

 

 The ability to withstand attacks without breaking form 

How Poise Works

In a nutshell, you are only able to resist stagger during "hyperarmor" frames, and your Poise stat determines how many attacks you can take before you can be staggered out of hyperarmor frames. Because hyperarmor frames are not fully uninterruptible and use Poise to determine whether or not you can be interrupted, it would be more accurate to call them "active poise". In the game's code, the supposedly deactivated value for poise is in fact activated during animations with active poise.

All characters using the player model, including the player character, most NPCs, and non-player invaders, have a hidden poise health of 100. All attacks that hit the character will reduce this value, and when the value reaches 0 the character will be staggered regardless of whether or not they are in the middle of an attack with poise frames. The stat Poise will reduce how much poise damage a weapon inflicts to this poise health, by a percentage equal to the amount of Poise. Your Poise stat is always passively reducing incoming poise damage, whether or not you are using an attack with active poise. However, you are only able to resist stagger during active poise, and at any other time you can be staggered regardless of how much poise health you have left.

Furthermore, all attacks and actions with active poise will give a multiplier to your current poise health (usually negative), allowing you to take more or fewer hits before being staggered. The modifiers for normal R1 and R2 attacks on weapons with active poise were greatly reduced in the 1.08 patch, to the point where characters need very high poise to resist stagger from one or two attacks now. However, as of the 1.08 patch, attacks with active poise will now automatically refresh your poise health back to 80% of full after modifiers. For example, if you are using a Greataxe weapon (maximum poise health for R1 is 27) and you have 0.1 poise health before the attack, then as soon as your attack starts your poise will instantly reset to 21.6.  What this means is you can now resist stagger from one or two attacks every time you attack, which allows tanky, high poise builds to play much more aggressively. Weapon arts with active poise have much higher modifiers than normal attacks do, being anywhere from 0.30 to 2.00 vs 0.10 to 0.27, and weapon arts will refresh your poise health back to 100% of full instead of 80%. Attacks that are blocked by a shield do not reduce your poise health at all.

Your poise health does not regenerate, but will immediately refresh back to 100% every 30 seconds or when it's reduced to 0, whichever comes first. In addition, the 1.08 patch made it so that your poise health resets to 80% of full whenever you use a normal attack with active poise and to 100% of its full value whenever you use a weapon art with active poise.

To use poise, you need to know these things: how much poise damage your opponent's attacks deal, what the poise health of your attacks is, and how much Poise from armor you need to reduce your opponent's poise damage far enough to not drop your poise health to zero. In addition, since your poise health resets back to 80% with every normal attack, it would also be helpful to have enough poise so that 20.01% of your poise health is left over, as this will allow you to resist stagger through your opponent's attack every time you attack. For weapons that only have active poise during their weapon arts, this is less important since weapon arts reset poise health back to 100% instead of 80%.

Active poise is found on certain weapon attacks including, but not limited to, Ultra Greatsword, Greathammer, and Greataxe R1s, Greatsword two-handed R1s, fully charged R2 attacks, most Weapon Skills, and the medium and heavy rolls. The 1.08 patch also gave active poise to two-handed Hammer attacks. Testing is still ongoing to determine which attacks have poise frames and what their poise multipliers are.

Sources:

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/4vnan9/how_poise_works/

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/58ru20/how_poise_works_in_108/

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/58ppik/hard_data_about_poise/

 

Stat Poise Information

Each piece of armor has a Poise rating, and your total Poise is the sum of each of your armor pieces. Naked characters have 0 Poise. In general, wearing heavier or more protective armor increases Poise.

As of patch 1.07. the Poise formula seems to reduce the effects of poise for armor and rings added once the player has any poise. Every piece added that increases poise will be subjected to the following formula:

    

 

So if adding the Wolf Ring (12.5 poise) on a character with 10 poise:

Weapons & Poise Damage

Information via Gamefaqs (Some values were changed in the 1.08 patch and may no longer be accurate. They will be updated as soon as the new values are found.)

 Trivia

For a long time, it was believed that the poise stat either didn't work or was intentionally disabled on release, due to a player finding a value in the game's code that determined whether or not poise was active and seeing that the value was 'off' by default. It was later discovered by other people that this value was only turned on during what was thought to be hyperarmor frames at the time, and that poise damage is constantly being calculated at all times but you are only able to resist stagger during attacks or actions with hyperarmor frames.

Boulder Heave is unique among spells in that it also inflicts poise damage. If an opponent is struck by the debris, it will deal a large amount of poise damage. However, spells and skills that cause knockdown do not take poise into account.

Enemies that do not use the player model, such as Darkwraiths, Silver Knights, and Black Knights, do not follow the same rules for poise that the player character and NPCs do.

 

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    • Anonymous

      20 May 2021 17:36  

      All these excuses justifying this bullsht of a poise system only encourages and justify spamming perseverance.

      • Anonymous

        12 May 2021 01:29  

        Then if I were to get damaged while attacking (enabling Poise) with a 'Ultra Greatsword',
        would the damage be lessened during it with an armor with more 'PHYSICAL' or 'POISE'?

        • Anonymous

          10 May 2021 17:58  

          Tell wathever you want about how ds1 s poise encouraged r1 spam, but ds3 s poise not only does EXACTLY the same thing, but also encourages doing it WITH ULTRA CLASS WEAPONS.

          The dumbest thing about it is the "logic" they try to make out of this sht, like "hey, that huge dragon is going to squash me. Ima strike a fkin pose!". Look for someone else to buy your bullsht.

          • Anonymous

            05 May 2021 02:43  

            This game would be so much better if poise worked like it did in Dark Souls 1. This is just...

            This is just ****ing stupid. You could be wearing havels armor and some undead with a rusty spork could break your poise.

            How do you **** something like this up?

            • Anonymous

              25 Apr 2021 23:46  

              Are you shitting me, I only just found out that roll poise is a thing. I thought it was a bug because I’ve often had times where I would attempt to roll catch players with a straight sword but they would get caught maybe once or twice before the next R1 hits them but doesn’t stagger them. Is it meant to be this inconsistent? If roll poise was functioning properly in these situations I wouldn’t have staggered them out of their roll even once right? I’m confused

              • Anonymous

                22 Apr 2021 16:20  

                Really torn on this mechanic. On the one hand, in DS1 a non pvp character had basically zero chance of defeating a pvp build. They could literally just walk up to you and spam R1, knowing full well that your weapon wouldn't stagger them and that theirs would win the trade.

                On the other hand, this implementation sort of forces players with high poise to spam R1, because they'd never see any benefit from poise if they aren't swinging.

                So it's sort of weird. In the end, it still encourages R1 spam. I guess now at least with proper timing a pve minded host can at least stagger dedicated invaders. But this mechanic, coupled with lag in pvp, sort of forces everyone to play way more aggressively/predictively rather than reactively most of the time.

                • Anonymous

                  21 Apr 2021 15:50  

                  Poise works you guys just want it works also passive like in dark souls 1. Its working as intented confirmed...

                  • Anonymous

                    16 Apr 2021 00:18  

                    DS1 poise could be a crutch at times, but DS3 poise is non-existent. a hollow with a broken straight sword shouldnt stagger someone in full havel armor with wolf ring +3 and two yhorm shields.

                    • Anonymous

                      13 Apr 2021 00:49  

                      Demon's Souls never had poise, only hyper armor, and its players never complained. Meanwhile people here who don't understand how poise functions here whine their heads off. BB players never complained about poise.

                      But DS1 poise it seems became a crutch for bad players.

                      • Anonymous

                        09 Apr 2021 16:13  

                        My blood boils every time I use Havel's armor and I get staggered by a hollow with a broken stick.

                        I've beaten the game vanilla but I will never return to it, modded poise feels so much better.

                        • Anonymous

                          08 Feb 2021 15:54  

                          The problem is not that we don't understand how poise works. We had plenty of explanation about something as simple as hyper armor and time to experiment with it.

                          The problem is: WE DO NOT LIKE IT. And why? Because without reliable tank builds being an option, this game is nothing but a non-exclusive version of bloodborne with layers of nostalgic stuff to get profit at minimum effort.

                          • Anonymous

                            01 Feb 2021 14:54  

                            in a way, the ds3 poise is realistic. When you would wear a havels armor in real life and would stand still doing nothing and someone would kick you, you would probably fall on the ground if the kick suprised you.

                            • Anonymous

                              30 Jan 2021 14:03  

                              Explanation 4 smooth brains like me
                              While you swing your weapon, poise activates
                              Some weapons have larger or shorter "swing" times, thus more/less time poise is active
                              When no swing, no poise

                              There ya go, now stay out of anything (yes, even whips) since not even wearing an armor made out of plates of stone matters; if you dont swing at the right time you are like a piece of paper

                              • Anonymous

                                20 Jan 2021 16:22  

                                As for the 1.07, simply the poise has a diminishing return like many other parameters (similar to bloodborne parameters system), the more you stack and the less you'll gain from stacking more.

                                • Anonymous

                                  14 Jan 2021 17:44  

                                  Jokes aside Lemme explain for you dex or mage builds and such poise isn’t too important but for ultra great users poise can be abused to your advantage. I used the wolf ring+3 on my profaned great sword with high poise armor and I was able to push through and win trades with bosses such as nameless and Gael. When using heavy weapons your attack frames start with your poise health not your start up which is why many people think poise is useless. This means unlike ds1 you still need to play smart with poise because when you time your attacks right you can deal massive damage without worrying about the stagger. Because what’s the point of swinging a massive weapon if someone can just poke you with their tiny lil dagger and stop it.

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